On Thursday, we’ll celebrate the nation’s 243rd birthday. Throngs of people will fill military bases and parks for games and music. Parades will be held. Flags will be waved. Fireworks will decorate the night sky.
Everyone will celebrate the country’s independence. Freedom. It’s the best. Clearly.
Except that freedom isn't so clear to everyone. It’s hard to imagine now, but the benefits of independence weren’t so obvious in 1776. At most, 45 percent of the population could be considered patriots at the time. Roughly 15-20 percent of colonists were loyal to England. The remaining 35-45 percent were either neutral or simply kept a low profile.
Those facts seem incredibly hard to fathom all these years later. Why were all of those colonists not fighting for independence? Some likely were loyalists on philosophical and political grounds. They believed in the benefit of the monarchy. Others were likely just trying to survive. Life in the colonies was difficult. It didn’t matter who was in political power to these folks as much as how they were going to make it through a difficult winter.
It’s important to remember these perspectives today because we’re met with similar thoughts when we share the gospel. Christ offers freedom to those who believe in him. He provides forgiveness of sins and eternal life. For those of us who have been in the faith for quite a while, the appeal of this freedom seems obvious.
We point to verses like Acts 13:38-39: “’Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.’”
The notion of that kind of freedom can be hard to fathom. It once was for me. As I contemplate it now, it remains astounding. The son of God came to earth, took my punishment and paved the way for me to have a relationship with God himself as well as eternal life? It sounds too simple. It sounds too good to be true.
Yet it is true.
This week as we celebrate the nation’s independence, let’s make sure we also share about the freedom found in Christ. Pray for our friends and neighbors. And patiently walk alongside them in their journey of faith.